The Characters

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Mother Abigail is Stephen King’s Christ figure in this version of the Apocalypse. At 108 years of age, Mother Abigail often reflects on the meaning of her life. As a young woman, she was a guitarist and singer and inherited money and land. The land was later taken away, bit by bit, to pay her taxes. Yet in all of her troubles, Abigail has relied on the Lord to save her and support her in her time of need—as she continues to do in the course of the novel.

Randall Flagg, the anti-Christ figure, can pass for either a black or a white man. He is not clearly of one race or the other, and his evil is such that he is against all that is good, and participates in all that is evil. He participated in Ku Klux Klan burnings, carried pamphlets by Lee Harvey Oswald, and met with revolutionaries in their councils.

Larry Underwood is a rock musician who, after years of struggle and one-night stands in seedy bars, finally makes it in the music world. With more money than he ever dreamed of, he begins to give lavish parties, take drugs, and in general go downhill. Finally, realizing that the people at his parties do not care about him, he leaves Hollywood one night to drive to New York. There his mother still lives in the same little walk-up apartment in which Underwood was reared. When the super-flu strikes, Larry is one of the survivors and endures the horror of seeing New York filled with the bodies of the dead. Larry and another survivor, a woman he picks up, travel west together. Larry’s irresponsibility is demonstrated after his companion dies: He leaves her body to the scavenger birds because he does not like the thought of handling her dead body.

Frannie Goldsmith, a pregnant college girl from New England, is one of King’s more realistically drawn female characters. Although unmarried, Frannie decides that she will carry the child and refuses to consider abortion. Frannie’s gentleness and love add some tenderness to this bleak novel. When she meets Harold Lauder, he is an overweight, clumsy teenager who has a crush on her. Because of her encouragement, Harold begins to grow and mature; though he is ultimately drawn to evil, he has known what it is to love and care for another.

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Stuart Redman

Stuart Redman, a widowed factory worker. Big and strong, Stu is quiet and competent. As a survivor of the superflu, he serves as a “lab rat” until the death of his captors, who are government employees. He escapes, joins with others, and leads them to Mother Abigail’s and on to Colorado, where he becomes a leader, eventually taking a group to the West to take on Flagg. Injured and left on the way, he is the only survivor of the expedition to Las Vegas.

Frannie Goldsmith

Frannie Goldsmith, a pregnant, unmarried college student. Tall and leggy, with long chestnut hair, Frannie is “prime stuff.” The object of Stu Redman’s affection as well as Harold Lauder’s, she is gentle and understanding, a helpmate and colleague to Stu. Frannie’s son is the first child born who contracts and survives the superflu.

Harold Emery Lauder

Harold Emery Lauder, later called Hawk, an exceptionally bright, socially inept teenager. The unwashed, overweight, and unpleasant spoiled child gives way to a hard, determined young man who winds up with the unlikely sobriquet “Hawk.” His intelligence guides him, and those who follow, safely to Mother Abigail’s and Colorado, but he becomes twisted because he wants Frannie, who loves Stu. He teams with Nadine Cross to destroy the town leaders. After their escape from Boulder, he is injured and abandoned by Nadine Cross. Realizing that he has been and done wrong, he writes an apology (later found by the Las Vegas expedition) and commits suicide.

Larry Underwood

Larry Underwood, a rock-and-roll singer. Larry is not a nice guy until he confronts himself after his companion’s accidental death. After an infatuation with Nadine Cross, he grows to love Lucy Swann, who supports him. First as group leader, then as community leader, he finds the strength to do the right thing in refusing Nadine and later finds the strength again in Las Vegas to not give in to fear or to Randall Flagg, even in the face of death.

Nick Andros

Nick Andros, a deaf and mute wanderer. Small, dark, thin, and younger looking than his twenty-two years, Nick is bright, responsible, honest, generous, and compassionate. He looks after victims of the superflu and after Tom Cullen and is an organizer as well as a leader because of his native intelligence. His death at the hands of Harold Lauder and Nadine...

(The entire section is 1003 words.)